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Chasing Lord Stanley: Four Teams Seek to Make History

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The Stanley Cup Playoffs have begun, making the end of April to mid June the most exhilarating time of the year for hockey fans. Across the US and Canada, hockey fans from various ages and backgrounds will come together to watch their favorite teams play, whether that be in person or at home. The 16 teams that have qualified this year are a special group with unmatched talent, which is guaranteed to keep fans on the edge of their seats. However, out of these 16 teams, four teams have never won the Stanley Cup before: the Vancouver Canucks, the Florida Panthers, the Nashville Predators, and the Winnipeg Jets. Which team has the best shot of making history and winning it all?

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First, let's look at the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks have been the comeback kids this NHL season. Last year, they were ranked sixth in the Pacific Division and were one of the bottom feeding teams in the league. This season, it is like a switch flipped. The Canucks came charging into the regular season full force. They made a statement early, climbing to the top of the Pacific Division rankings, overpowering last year’s Stanley Cup Champions as well as other consistent playoff teams. Not stopping to take their foot off the gas, they clinched the divisional spot, automatically qualifying them for the Playoffs for the first time since 2020. Led by their young captain Quinn Hughes and other big names like J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser, and Elias Pettersson, the Canucks certainly have the manpower it takes to win it all this season.  

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Next, there are the Florida Panthers. The Panthers have consistently made the playoffs the past three years in a row. The Cats have only made the Stanley Cup Finals twice, first in 1996, where they lost to the Colorado Avalanche and then last season in 2023, where they lost to the Vegas Golden Knights. Last season, the Panthers had to climb their way to the top to prove they were contenders after receiving the last wild-card spot. This year, they are sitting pretty. Being the President’s Trophy winner for having the most points during the regular season, the Panthers are one of the favorites to win the Cup. However, the President’s Trophy curse must be considered: since the NHL introduced the wild-card format to the Playoffs, no President’s Trophy winner has won the Cup. Under the steady leadership of their captain Aleksander Barkov and with the help of NHL superstars and franchise players Sam Reinhart and Matthew Tkachuk, the Cats should be feared. But, will the President’s Trophy curse slow down their momentum?

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Then, there is the Nashville Predators. The Predators are the definition of Playoff appearance consistency: they have made the Playoffs nine times in the past 10 years and 16 times in the past 20 years. The Preds have only made it to the Finals once back in 2017, where they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, besides that occurrence, they have usually been eliminated within the first and second rounds. They did not make the Playoffs last year, so this year could be their chance to make a comeback. With just shy of 100 points for the regular season, they are not one of the lower-ranked teams in the Playoffs, even though they did get in through a wildcard spot. Along with their appearance consistency, they have a reliable roster, led by franchise players Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi, and Ryan O’Reilly. However, will consistency be enough for Smashville to smash records, make history, and win their first ever Cup?

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Last, but not least, there are the Winnipeg Jets. Out of all these teams, the Jets are the youngest. In their 13 year existence, the Jets have made the Playoffs six times, usually losing in the first or second round. In 2018, which was their best season, they made it to the Western Conference Championships where they lost making it to the Stanley Cup Finals to the Vegas Golden Knights. At the end of the regular season, the Jets were one of the highest ranked teams, tallying a total of 110 points. It was not long ago that their star left winger Kyle Connor was leading the league during the postseason in points, and their captain Mark Sheifele was not too far behind him. Earlier in the Playoffs the Jets had three players in the top five rankings for most Playoff goals. Though they were not one of the most-talked about teams during the regular season, the Jets definitely have the potential to be the team on everyone’s mind this postseason. Since they made incredible strides this season, it is not unlikely that they could walk away with a historic win.

Update: The Jets have been eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the first round by the Colorado Avalanche. Even though the Jets are disappointed by their early exit, head coach Rick Bowness was happy with the team’s effort. In an interview, he said “We’re way ahead of where we were at this point last year when we lost. Way ahead.”

All these teams definitely have a shot to make it all the way. As the quest for the Cup continues, it will be exciting to see how the tables turn and whether any of these teams will make history. 

Edited by Giana Robertaccio

Social Media Content Created by Caroline McGuinness

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